For the opening ceremony of the 2018 World Cup, the Russian football league presented Tim the circus performing bear to kick off the game with a few tricks. This has angered several animal rights organizations including PETA.
It was said that Tim was trained to perform a few tricks prior to the match between Mashuk-KMV and Angust. The animal was brought out on a leash with a muzzle piece strapped to his face.
Tim’s handler then instructed him to sit on his hind legs and to make clapping motions while facing a rowdy group of football fans in the audience. The next trick he performed was holding a football between his front paws, which was followed by Tim turning back to his fans in clapping gestures.
The referee then approaches Tim to get the ball from his paws. This opening act was greatly criticized by PETA’s director of animal welfare and Four Paws UK, Elisa Allen and Brian da Cal respectively. “Bears are wild animals and as such have very specific and complex needs,” Allen says.
Da Cal also adds “Being chained up, muzzled and forced to perform unnatural acts in front of large, rowdy crowds of people causes tremendous stress and can have an untold impact on these animals, both psychological and physical.”
Aside from the inhumane move, using a bear as a captive servant to deliver a football is considered utmost dangerous according to Allen. As the preparations start to commence for the World Cup on June, all eyes are on the Russian football league to properly lead the event with proper mechanisms as a standard for the event’s success.